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HDMI 2.1: Why It Matters for PCs and TVs – Explained

A major connector and cable standard for PCs and TVs, HDMI is widely used around the world. With the latest upgrade in HDMI technology, HDMI is even more likely to gain recognition over other connections. With the release of HDMI 2.1 in 2021, there is an unexpected boom in demand for the technology. There is a question as to why HDMI 2.1 matters for PCs and TVs.

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Until a few years ago, HDMI was the most common high-quality connection for laptops, cable sets, satellite TV, gaming consoles, and other media devices. As a result of its typical use, it supported an increased number of devices. HDMI still holds its own in this era of technology. In part, this is due to the improvement of HDMI technology over time.

The HDMI cable and connectors can do more than you imagine after a complete overhaul. Additionally, they provide high-speed data transfer for multiple displays. HDMI 2.1 is a promising addition that has surprisingly implemented many improvements and also has the potential to become more valuable in the future. HDMI 2.1 is already familiar to most PC consumers because it is widely compatible with high-end graphics cards, Microsoft Xbox Series X, consumer-grade TVs, and Sony PlayStation 5. Let’s dive into HDMI 2.1, its working, features, and reasons you should buy it.

What is HDMI 2.1?

HDMI 2.1 is a recent update to the HDMI interface that supports higher refresh rates and resolutions. With a 4K resolution, you can get a 120 Hz refresh rate without input lag. Supports a resolution of 8K at 60 Hz as well as a resolution of 10K. This new technology supports more bandwidth transfer with a staggering 48 Gbps limit. This new ultra-high-speed HDMI cable also supports dynamic HDR.

Even HDMI 2.1’s features are future-proof. Your investment in these cables and connectors will continue to pay off for a long time. With the introduction of high bandwidth-related features, this interface can process uncompressed 8K HDR videos. In addition to that, there are many other notable features, such as exceptionally low EMI and its backward compatibility, that we will discuss later in this article.

Why HDMI 2.1 Matters for TVs and PCs?

The HDMI interface has been upgraded several times, and the technology has improved a lot with each revision. However, there are heated debates regarding the differences between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1, so we will go feature by feature to explain the improvements and features offered by HDMI 2.1 and how they are better than HDMI 2.0.

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As you may already know, HDMI 2.0 is the immediate predecessor to HDMI 2.1. Despite HDMI 2.0’s release, it was not widely used until 4K TVs became mainstream. HDMI 2.0 offered more resolutions and refresh rates compared to HDMI 1.4. With its support of 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, it really revolutionized video playback.

Is this famous interface from the past still viable after its upgrade? What are the benefits of HDMI 2.1 for TVs? Let’s explore what HDMI 2.1 has to offer by exploring its features. 

1. Higher Resolution, Better Refresh Rate

HDMI 2.1 supports a native resolution of 10K, an improvement over our 4K displays. As of now, our monitors and TVs can only support 4K and 8K resolutions, so this increase in resolution is future-proof. Though they have not reached this level yet, playing games or watching videos at 10K could be a game changer. For the current scenario, 4K videos can be played at 120 Hz and you can enjoy smoother and higher quality videos or games.

The increasing demand for 60 frames per second among gamers makes 120 frames per second a game-changer. Most gamers prefer to play at least 60 frames per second as it provides a smoother and more realistic gaming experience. However, 120 Hz seems more realistic and smoother and offers a better competitive gaming experience. Best Thin Bezel Monitor you can experience the essence of gaming in smoother fps and 4K resolution.

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In the latest high-performance games supported by Nvidia and AMD’s latest technology, frame rates can reach triple-digits instead of 60 frames per second at 4K resolution in the past. For gamers, it was difficult to find the best solution for meeting their need for higher frame rates per second at 4K resolution. HDMI 2.1 has addressed the core concern of power users like gamers and TV watchers who prefer high-quality content.

In the past few years, 4K monitors have dominated the TV market. Nevertheless, the demand for the best 8K monitors has increased too many folds in the last few years. HDMI supports 8K resolutions at 60 fps, which is still a significant upgrade. HDMI 2.1 supports the current best resolution and adds support for future best resolutions, making it more future-proof for long-term investment.

2. More Power to eARC

eARC stands for Enhanced Audio Return Channel. EARC channels the audio stream from a source like a streaming box or cable and passes it through the TV to an output like a speaker bar, audio converter, or any other device. It’s not new for TVs to work with eARC, but setting it up can be challenging. Previous versions of HDMI did not allow eARC to be set up with a single cable. HDMI 2.1 does not support eARC over a single cable.

HDMI 2.1 offers an improvement over the previous Audio Return Channel. With the Enhanced Audio Return Channel, multiple components can be connected very easily. Easy-to-use, it supports the latest audio formats and high bitrates. You can then enjoy a theater-quality movie experience from the comfort of your living room with enhanced audio depth and detail.

3. A better Dynamic HDR Processor

Especially in this era of technology, HDR, or High-Definition Range, is not a new concept. People who enjoy taking pictures and watching movies should already be familiar with HDR technology. The technology makes the image and video more visible compared to non-HDR samples. By increasing the contrast values beyond standard levels, HDR brightens or darkens the digital media at the right ratio. But that’s the story of static HDR, and this would be better suited to a situation where one setting applies to all content.

Frame-by-frame processing improves and tunes the visual experience in Dynamic High-Definition Range. The implementation of dynamic HDR allows all the scenes in a video to be rendered in a full range of brightness, colors, and contrast that enlightens and enhances the content. HDMI 2.0 was a significant improvement because it supported dynamic HDR at 4K resolution and 60Hz, but HDMI 2.1 has gone even further. It supports dynamic HDR at 4K and 120 Hz, which is a future standard. The huge improvement appears to be contributing to better audio and video content.

4. Optimized display with Variable Refresh Rate

The refresh rate is a very important factor when it comes to gaming and watching videos. Refreshing or redrawing the picture depends on this criterion. The standard and most widely used refresh rate for TVs and monitors is 60 Hz, which is equal to 60 frames per second. For gamers, 60 frames per second is not enough to meet their competitive gaming needs.

If the graphics card pushes more than 60 frames per second, then this static refresh rate can cause problems with “tearing.” This occurs when the frames misalign, and you see parts of one frame and parts of the other simultaneously. HDMI VRR effectively eliminates this tearing problem. It syncs the frame processing in a way that the sources transfer the frame rate after the processing. With HDMI VRR technology, you can experience a smooth gaming experience.

5. Other Key Features of HDMI 2.1

There are many other useful technologies built into HDMI 2.1 that contribute to a smoother and lag-free gaming experience. One of these is QFT technology, which effectively reduces “input lag” during gameplay. Among the main concerns for gamers is input lag, which is a brief delay between input and registering that input in the game. By incorporating Quick Frame Transport (QFT), HDMI 2.1 reduces the amount of time it takes for information to travel between active video devices.

Another great feature of VRR is the Quick Media Switching utility. The utility reduces the delay when we change input sources on the TV. When switching between Amazon Prime and the cable box, you probably observed a brief black screen. In QMS, the VRR works intelligently with the QMS to minimize that gap when switching from one source to another.

If you are a gamer, HDMI 2.1 offers another exciting feature. In most games, you can enable auto low latency mode from the settings. The Auto Low Latency Mode automatically detects when gaming is necessary and disables it when not required. ALLM is a small utility, but a good convenience source for gamers.

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Is HDMI 2.1 better than DisplayPort?

Both HDMI and DisplayPort are rivals because they provide the same set of features, albeit with minor differences in performance. Every time there is an improvement in a technology of an interface, several changes happen that improve their specification. Both connections are capable of providing connectivity for output and input video devices over a single cable, however. Home entertainment and gaming consoles prefer HDMI, while computers prefer DisplayPort.

Does HDMI 2.1 really stand out?

HDMI 2.1 is an impressive upgrade over its predecessor. It supports a higher resolution and offers more frames per second. Even so, most of its specifications aren’t supported by TVs and monitors. As 8K monitors are introduced, it will become more streamlined. The query “HDMI 2.1: Why it matters for PCs and TVs” can be summarized in one line as “smoother frame rates, higher resolution support, and dynamic HDR.”.

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